Watkins: “I’m a lockdown corner”

MOBILE, Alabama — DeWayne Walker has more than 25 years of coaching experience at both the collegiate and professional levels. He’s currently the defensive backs coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars, whose staff is coaching the South team at the Senior Bowl.

Walker is thought of as one of the best defensive backs coaches regardless of level. He’s a great teacher and has been spending a lot of time this week coaching up the cornerbacks this week, teaching them press coverage.

There’s one pupil that’s ahead of the learning curve.

“Coach Walker’s technique is similar to ours and its something that I played a lot of at Florida,” former Gators defensive back Jaylen Watkins told Gator Country. “I would say that playing at Florida under Coach (Will) Muschamp’s system, how hard he is on us about press really helped. Playing press is really something I like to do. Some guys that are here, you really have to teach them technique but I got a lot of that at Florida.”

Watkins credits Will Muschamp for putting him in a position at Florida to learn. Watkins was the Swiss army knife of the Florida secondary during his career playing the boundary, nickelback and safety. Watkins spent most of his senior year playing safety. It wasn’t necessarily what he wanted to do but it helped the team fill a position with a veteran leader who could be relied on to relay calls and make sure the defense was set and knew what their responsibilities were.

“Coach Muschamp put a lot on me to learn,” Watkins said. “I think it made his job easier and it made me a better player too.”

For Watkins, being able to have film showing him playing at a high level at multiple positions is advantageous right now as he tries to impress NFL scouts and coaches. While he’s played multiple positions the past four years, Watkins has one thing on his mind that he wants to prove this week.

He’s a corner and in his mind, one of the top cornerbacks in the draft class.

“I played a lot of positions at Florida so I want everybody to know that I’m a corner, a lockdown corner,” he said.

Watkins sure looked like it in the second practice on Tuesday. He played exceptionally well on the boundary, covering guys like Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews. Watkins tallied an interception, forced a fumble and had at least five pass breakups in the first practice in full pads.

Watkins was often overlooked in Florida’s secondary playing next to two other future NFL cornerbacks Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson. He’s not even the most talked about Watkins in the draft. That nod goes to his younger brother Sammy, who left Clemson early to enter the draft this year.

That’s fine for Watkins. He’s content on flying under the radar and will let his play do the talking.

“This week I’m at cornerback and I’m going to show my talents off to the scouts and teams,” he said. “I feel like I’m a top 5 cornerback and I want to show that to everyone.

“I feel like I’m proving my point.”

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC